Metformin, a medication commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, is gaining popularity as a potential anti-aging drug. Researchers have been studying its effects on aging for several years, and early findings suggest that it may be able to extend lifespan and prevent age-related diseases.
Metformin works by reducing glucose production in the liver and increasing insulin sensitivity. This helps to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. However, it also has other effects on the body that are of interest to anti-aging researchers.
One of the primary ways that metformin may help to slow the aging process is by activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that regulates energy metabolism. Activation of AMPK has been shown to increase lifespan in several animal models, including mice and worms.
In addition to its effects on AMPK, metformin may also help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two processes that are thought to contribute to aging and age-related diseases. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can damage tissues and lead to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them. ROS can damage DNA, proteins, and other molecules, leading to cellular dysfunction and aging.
Research has shown that metformin may help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress by a number of mechanisms. For example, it can activate sirtuins, a family of proteins that regulate gene expression and are involved in cellular stress response. Sirtuins have been shown to extend lifespan in several animal models, and metformin has been shown to activate them in human cells.
In addition to its effects on cellular processes, metformin may also have specific benefits for age-related diseases. For example, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is a leading cause of death in older adults. This may be due in part to its effects on reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, but it may also be related to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Metformin has also been studied for its potential to prevent or treat cancer. Several studies have suggested that metformin may be able to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer. It may also improve the response to cancer treatment, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.
[4B] Metformin VS Exercise:
Since both exercise and metformin can improve glycemic control and since both mediate their effects via the activation of AMPK, this suggests that there should be at least an additive effect when metformin use is combined with exercise. Unfortunately, based on a prospective, double-blinded, randomized, controlled study additive effects of benefits were not observed (201). In this study, men and women with pre-diabetes followed an exercise protocol for 12 weeks with no drug, versus metformin alone (2000 mg/day), versus a combination, or, exercise plus placebo. The results indicated that although both metformin and exercise improved skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity by 55 and 90% respectively the combination resulted in only a 30% enhancement. The results were similar for effects on systolic BP and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) that were reduced by 7 to 8% versus 20-25% respectively (201). In addition, metformin blunted the exercise-induced increase in VO2peak (201). The authors suggest that the negative effect of metformin on exercise results from metformin lowering ROS levels, thus reducing the effects of ROS to activate AMPK. The data suggest that exercise, and not metformin, is the “ideal drug” (201).
Despite the promising results of early studies, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of metformin on aging and age-related diseases. Some researchers have raised concerns about the potential side effects of long-term metformin use, such as gastrointestinal problems and vitamin B12 deficiency. However, these side effects are generally mild and can be managed with proper monitoring and supplementation.
It’s important to note that metformin is not a magic pill for anti-aging. It’s still important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, in order to optimize health and longevity. However, metformin may be a useful tool for those looking to slow the aging process and reduce their risk of age-related diseases.
In conclusion, those who don’t exercise regularly will benefit most from taking Metformin. If you’re not pre-diabetic, and you exercise at least 5 days a week you’ll actually benefit more from avoiding Metformin (highlighted in [4B]).